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The mechanical properties of neurospheres Okwara, Chike Karl


Stem cell-derived 3D tissues such as spheroids are excellent models for investigating mechanisms of tissue formation and responses to physiological and mechanical cues. Neuronal spheroids, also known as neurospheres, have attracted particular interest. A lot is now known about the differentiation and maturation of neurospheres, as well as their responses to biochemical cues. However, understanding about their mechanical properties pales in comparison, which is all the more galling in light of newfound insights about how mechanical stimuli trigger the onset of neurodegenerative conditions. In the current study, we have taken formative steps to fill this knowledge gap. We generated neurospheres from murine neural stem cells, treated with hydrogen peroxide to simulate oxidative stress, and subjected them to compressive forces. We observed that neurospheres exhibit viscoelastic behaviour at low strains and plastic deformation at larger strains. We also evaluated the suitability of the Tatara model for characterizing the mechanical properties of neurospheres. There was an observable dependence of the mechanical properties of the neurospheres on the their sizes, with smaller samples being stiffer. When comparing neurospheres treated with a mild peroxide treatment to untreated samples, no significant differences in the mechanical properties were detected Our study is the first to investigate the mechanical properties of living neurospheres under uni-axial compression. However, the results demonstrate the need for further method development in order to account for biological variability and sample heterogeneity.

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